Bayhawks part ways with head coach

Bill Wagner
Contact Reporterbwagner@capgaznews.com

President Mark Burdett believes the Chesapeake Bayhawks need a full-time head coach in order to take the next step forward.

Brian Reese was unable to make that type of commitment at this point in his life.

As a result, Reese and the Bayhawks have amicably parted ways, the team announced on Thursday. Reese had one year left on a three-year contract he signed in 2016.

“We made a determination as an organization that we need a full-time head coach. We need somebody 100 percent committed to what the Bayhawks are working on for the future,” Burdett said. “Candidly, Brian just can’t fit that bill because of his commitments. Frankly, those commitments are more important and we understand that.”

Reese compiled a 15-13 record in two seasons as Chesapeake’s head coach. The Bayhawks finished in a seven-way tie for first place with an 8-6 record, but missed the playoffs by tiebreaker. This past season, Chesapeake went 7-7 and again narrowly missed the playoffs for the third straight season.

Burdett said he spoke to Reese about taking the head coaching job on a full-time basis, but that was not possible because he works as a teacher and coach at Glenelg Country Day School and also has four children. His wife, Cathy Reese, is head coach of women’s lacrosse at the University of Maryland.

“We recognized the head coaching position as we envision it moving forward was not going to fit into Brian’s schedule so we just decided it was in everyone’s best interests to move on,” Burdett said. “Brian isn’t happy, which is understandable. He wants another shot at leading the Bayhawks to a championship and we get that.”

Reese played for the Bayhawks when they were based in Baltimore and also served as an assistant for the franchise. He served as general manager of the Denver Outlaws from 2005 through 2010, doubling as head coach for part of that time.

“I really appreciate the opportunity I was given by the Bayhawks. It’s a great organization to work with in terms of the owner, the president and the general manager,” Reese said. “I got a chance to coach a lot of great players and be part of a fabulous locker room.”

Chesapeake transitioned from a veteran club into a much younger one under Reese, a St. Paul’s School graduate and standout defenseman at Maryland. He integrated numerous rookies this season and was looking forward to watching the young squad develop.

“I think the team is poised for big things. I wish I had been able to see this through because I think it’s on the brink of something special,” Reese said. “I understand what the Bayhawks want and I have to respect their decision.”

Burdett said the Bayhawks are looking to take the organization to another level with development of a new stadium complex. Chesapeake owner Brendan Kelly wants to build the first stadium designed specifically for Major League Lacrosse in the Crownsville area.

Burdett said he and Kelly are scheduled to meet with Anne Arundel County executive Steve Schuh on Monday and believes the MLL franchise is on the verge of “greenlighting phase one of our stadium.”

“We are close to putting a shovel in the ground,” he said.

Burdett indicated the stadium project along with other initiatives the Bayhawks want to pursue requires having a full-time head coach.

“When you look at the size, scope and dimension of what we’re on the verge of accomplishing… we just have to move into a full-time environment,” he said.

Burdett said he and Kelly want the head coach representing the Bayhawks at civic events and other important community functions.

“​​The Bayhawks as a business and a brand must win in the community. Our head coach is the face of the team in that environment,” Burdett said. “There is one person that should be speaking on behalf of the organization on a full-time basis and that’s the head coach.”

Chesapeake would become the first Major League Lacrosse franchise to hire a full-time head coach. The Bayhawks are believed to have one of the highest payrolls in MLL with Burdett and general manager Dave Cottle also earning full-time salaries.

“On the surface it would seem counterintuitive to spend more money in an attempt to make more money, but the reality is that in order to turn the corner and make this a profitable organization we’re going to need to spend more money,” Burdett said. “This is one of the steps we need to take to head in that direction.”

Burdett said the search for a full-time head coach would begin immediately and declined to speculate on possible candidates.

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